What I’ve Learnt From Being A Self-Proclaimed Fried Chicken Expert

By Liam Donnelly (he/him)

The decision to have a food-themed issue of CANTA was quite an easy decision to make. Food is great! Everyone eats, most people enjoy eating, and pretty much everyone has memories of food that evoke feelings of closeness and community.  

As soon as that decision was made, I knew, I KNEW, I’d talk about fried chicken. 

You see, I’m a very avid consumer of fried chicken.  

No, not in an ‘I eat lots of KFC’ way.  

I mean, in an ‘I will hunt out fried chicken everywhere I go, and I’ll analyse the fuck out of it’ way. 

Now I know many of you are probably thinking that liking fried chicken is nothing unique; a lot of people profess to like fried chicken. KFC has 102 restaurants (as of December 2020) in this country and makes over $350,000,000 in sales annually, so there is plenty of evidence to suggest we are a fried chicken loving nation.  

But I’m going to be completely honest, I actually know better. I am completely, unquestionably a fried chicken aficionado.  

So, here’s every piece of fried-chicken-related advice you need: 

No, KFC is not the best fried chicken 

  • KFC is the most basic of the fried chickens, the simple coat and fry technique. No messing around.  
  • Also, there’s no guarantee that it’s a fresh piece; it could have sat around for hours getting dry before it was packaged into a box for you. 
  • Some people ask specifically for a piece of breast chicken and think they’ve fucking mastered cuisine itself. Sure, the breast piece is good if it’s fresh out of the fryer. But it’s also the meatiest piece and dries out the fastest. 

Fuck shallow frying 

  • This is mainly for those frying chicken at home. But don’t bother shallow frying chicken. If you’re going to go to the length of making fried chicken, buy a goddamn deep fryer. 
  • Shallow frying generally takes a bit longer and doesn’t give a consistent coat to your fried chicken. 
  • Good fried chicken is chicken that is fucking SWIMMING in oil. 

Brine! Brine! Brine! 

  • Brining is the process of submerging a cut of meat into a solution of salt and water with additions such as herbs, spices, and/or sugar. 
  • Brining helps to preserve and season the chicken while enhancing tenderness and flavour. 
  • Brine overnight or for up to 24 hours for best effect. 
  • This technique completely transforms fried chicken and makes for the moistest, richest chicken you could have. 

Texture contrast 

  • This, dear readers, is the key. What ultimately defines fried chicken is the contrast between the skin and the meat. 
  • The best fried chicken is crunchy on the outside and moister than an otter’s pocket on the inside. 
  • When you bite into it, you should feel that clash of two opposing textures dancing on your tongue. 

Chikin & Karaage 

  • We often consider fried chicken as a dish of the southern United States. But many countries have a culture of frying chicken, all with varying techniques. 
  • ‘Chikin’ as it’s known in Korea, and ‘Karaage’ in Japan, are – in my qualified opinion – the best styles of fried chicken. 
  • Put simply; both styles require thoroughly marinated or brined chicken and a good coating that often include potato or corn starch, which helps for crunch. 
  • You haven’t had good fried chicken until you’ve ventured away from southern, 11-herbs-and-spices style chicken. 

Coat, don’t dip 

  • This may be a controversial opinion for some, but fried chicken is not for dipping in condiments. 
  • If you want more flavour, fried chicken needs to be coated in a sauce, dressing, seasoning or whatever, immediately after having being cooked. 
  • Fried chicken is not made for dipping; a dip can affect the meat’s overall texture contrast and perception on your tongue. 
  • You can fight me on this; I will die on a hill for this opinion. 

Location Recommendations 

So, after all this, it would be cruel not to recommend some good locations for fried chicken. 

Here are some places I like to go to: 

  • Monster Chicken – 1 Riccarton Rd or 394 Riccarton Rd 
  • The Sushi House – Shop 10/104 Staveley Street 
  • Seoul Tiger – Riverside Market, 96 Oxford Terrace 
  • Mexicanos – 131 Victoria Street 
  • Empire Chicken – Riverside Market, 96 Oxford Terrace